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Graphic design student gives nonprofit organization a new look

Apr 20, 2017

A nonprofit organization that provides “service dogs for those who served” is getting new branding, courtesy of an RIT College of Imaging Arts and Sciences student.

Industrial design lecturer Graham Carson proposed creating a new logo for Hero Labradors to interested graphic design students. And the chosen design, pictured on the right, was done by Arianna Wagar, who is in her second year in the program.

Hero Labradors is a Texas-based 501(c)(3) initiative that breeds and raises American Kennel Club-registered Labrador retrievers and donates them to service dog training programs. However, that is only done under the guarantee that the programs, in turn, give the Labs to disabled veterans, wounded warriors or first responders in need of them, for free, following training.

Wagar’s logo will be used on Hero’s letterhead, adorn T-shirts and be emblazoned on kennel vehicles.

Carson’s friendship with Hero’s operator, Chuck Ziegenfuss, spawned the new-emblem idea for Hero, which is 100 percent volunteer-based.

Ziegenfuss is a retired U.S. Army major who was wounded by a roadside bomb in Iraq in 2005. He lost part of his left hand, his eardrums and large patches of skin on his legs and arms. He eventually returned to duty before retiring in 2015.  

In 2006, Ziegenfuss was given a Lab as a gift for his promotion to major. The dog — aptly named Major — “became, most accidentally, my first service dog,” Ziegenfuss wrote on Hero’s website.

Major was from a litter with a high aptitude for learning. He proved to be a smart, caring dog, helping Ziegenfuss with retrieving dropped items, guarding him at night and staying beside him to act as an anchor in case Ziegenfuss lost his balance.

Some of that behavior was trained, some instinct.

That experience is a big reason why Ziegenfuss pursued his service-dog venture and seeks to provide veterans with the best companions possible. Ziegenfuss breeds Labradors and selects strictly for qualities and traits that are best suited for service.